Planet Rugby

Reds set to start Horwill

03rd February 2013 08:22

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James Horwill

Set to start: James Horwill

The Reds will put the finishing touches on their pre-season preparations when they welcome back several experienced players for Friday's clash with the Chiefs at Stockland Stadium Sunshine Coast.

Ewen McKenzie's men will be eager to continue their winning form after producing a thrilling 41-35 victory over the Blues Saturday.

McKenzie is expected to again roll out a large contingent of Wallabies against the Chiefs with the match the perfect lead-up to the team's round one Super Rugby affair against the Brumbies in Canberra on February 16.

McKenzie will assess the availability of his playing group prior to Tuesday's team announcement although Reds and Wallabies captain James Horwill, hooker Saia Faingaa, lock Rob Simmons, backrower Jake Schatz and winger Dom Shipperley are among a group of players returning to the fold.

"We'll assess the health of certain individuals and decide on the make-up of our squad early in the week but at this stage we're confident of welcoming back a number of guys for our trial against the Chiefs," McKenzie said.

"Everything for us at this stage is about ensuring we are in the best possible space going into next week's match against the Brumbies, so it's important that we see guys back out on the field performing before we make selection decisions for round one.

"Being our last trial game before the Super Rugby competition begins, our fans can expect at least as many Wallabies as we had in Toowoomba playing on Friday night."

The Reds will enter the match buoyed by their seven-try performance against the Blues in Toowoomba, where a team boasting 11 capped Wallabies from 2012 got the Reds off to the perfect start in 2013.

McKenzie said the Reds would take plenty of positives from that match with the high-intensify affair exactly what the team was seeking ahead of the season.

"We deliberately targeted Kiwi teams for our trials because in the end you want to be tested and they test you out in defence. We'll take a lot out of Saturday night's game," he said.

The Reds completed the match relatively unscathed although centre Anthony Faingaa will have an x-ray on his left hand on Monday morning.

Friday's match will see the Super Rugby champions of the past two seasons go head-to-head for the first time since their enthralling round 12 contest last year produced 10 tries and finished with the Reds victorious 42-27.

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